Publishing and training writers from Indigenous Australia and refugee and asylum-seeker backgrounds

| 24 Apr 2018

Brigitta Olubas, Hari Harindranath and their colleagues are producing a new online magazine called Live Crossings that will publish writers and artists from Indigenous Australia and asylum seeker and refugee communities, giving voice and agency to these communities and helping to celebrate the diversity of Australia’s past and present.

The Challenge: Lack of voice from Indigenous and migrant Australians in mainstream media

There is a lack of voice and agency of marginalised groups in Australia in literature, art and the mainstream. Indigenous Australians and the country’s asylum seekers and refugees are often referred to in negative terms in language that lacks nuance and complexity. Migrant stories in Australia are often overlooked. These silences underrepresent Australia’s vast multicultural tapestry which is complex and varied.

UNSW's solution: Mentor creative practitioners and publish an arts magazine

Brigitta, Hari and their colleagues are proposing to publish a twice-yearly online magazine called Live Crossings. The Magazine will feature creative work by Indigenous Australians and asylum seekers and refugees in or near Australia. It will be free and readily accessible by local and international audiences. Content for each issue will be developed through workshops run by artists and community cultural development workers from Indigenous, refugee and migrant communities. A performance event will be held for each edition launch featuring a performance artist partnered with a writer. The first launch will take place in the second half of 2018. Ahead of that launch, Live Crossings will host the launch of the new novel-memoir by Manus Island detainee and Iranian journalist and writer, Behrouz Boochani.

The research team will leverage the skills and expertise of UNSW researchers to support artists and writers from these marginalised groups in writing and publishing workshops. Two of these workshops have already been held in January 2018, the outcome of which is a graphic novel project being undertaken by asylum seekers and refugees living in Sydney. The plan is to provide further workshops to develop writers’ and artists’ skills, and to create a reliable and healthy network to source new work from. The Indigenous network is already established and healthy, but the asylum seeker and refugee network needs further support in the early stages.

The research team are developing an ARC Linkage project that builds on Live Crossings and proposes to research refugee and Indigenous arts practice and political transformation, cultural citizenship, and social and political participation. Further funding will be sought to support future workshops and network building, the creation of a website, performances, and internships for Indigenous students.

The Impact: Giving voice and agency to marginalised communities, celebrating diversity

Live Crossings will give Indigenous Australians and asylum seekers and refugees a dedicated platform to have their voices heard and celebrated. This will empower these communities towards a sustainable place in mainstream debate and consideration, giving them agency to represent themselves. The journal will help to create a more balanced multicultural picture of Australian life, and it will raise the profile of minority voices around the world.

The workshops will help establish and support more writers and artists from marginalised backgrounds. They will also promote further skills in community cultural development and media production, and cement networks in these communities. The training of workshop facilitators will ensure the longevity and quality of workshops for future writers and artists.


Brigitta Olubas is Professor of English at UNSW. She teaches and researches in the areas of contemporary writing, Australian Literature, women writers, feminist aesthetics, literary and visual culture, critical theory, nineteenth and twentieth century fiction. She has been a Visiting Scholar at the Oxford Centre for Life Writing, and in 2018 will be a Visiting Scholar in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. She was editor of the online Journal of the Association for the Study of Australian Literature, and a founding editor of Xtext, the journal of cross-cultural critique.

Ramaswami Harindranath is Professor of Media at UNSW. He gained his PhD at the University of Leicester, UK, and has previously held teaching and research positions at the University of Melbourne, University of Queensland, and in various universities in the UK, India, and Malaysia. He has had Visiting Fellowships at Brown University (USA), the University of Helsinki, and Oxford University, and was an Honorary Research Associate at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. Hari is a co-editor of the journal Postcolonial Studies.